The Internet Was Made for Adults, VAULT Festival

by guest critic Joanna Trainor

A cabaret, but also Tinder, and a break up, sending nudes, watching porn for the first time and embracing or fearing female sexuality. The Internet was Made for Adults squashes a few too many storylines into one 70-minute show, some of which have almost nothing to do with the internet at all. Individually they would all make interesting and important subjects for a play, but crammed together it’s too disjointed to really
enjoy.

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Flights of Fancy, Soho Theatre

Fancy Chance was born in Korea, abandoned as an infant, adopted by a conservative American family, then moved to London. After working as a table dancer and then in a peep show in Seattle, she moved into burlesque, drag, cabaret, live art and circus. Her CV that’s more varied than her cultural make-up, Fancy’s latest endeavour is her first solo performance, Flights of Fancy. Drawing on current politics, cultural clashes and expectations, and her performance history, the show is a collection of sketches that create a quirky autobiography of sorts. Endearing and fun with a biting finale, the piece’s through-line is woolly with loose connections between individual moments.

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Day Two at Buzzcut Festival

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Part of the reason I wanted to come to Buzzcut is that I find it hard to write about live art. I don’t dislike it, far from it – I have a broad but uninformed appreciation of it. But my theatrical home is built from Shakespeare, text-based narratives and the great American playwrights. I’m no Megan Vaughan or Rosie Curtis – I see performance art every now and again, but not nearly enough as I should. So the goal is to see a lot of live art, and write about. The range in styles and approaches is vast and the festival draws live artists from around the country, so it’s a great place to experience this form of performance.

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Two Man Show, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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RashDash are angry. Like, fucking furious level of angry. They’re fed up of patriarchal language and gender stereotypes that limit both men and women from expressing themselves honestly. So they made a show about it. Two Man Show has three women in it, music and dance, nudity and a lot of explosive energy. It’s part science lecture, part role play and part celebration of who we are without others’ judgment and categorisation based on gender expression. It’s a fantastic, “fuck yeah” explosion of pretty skirts, masculinity, tits, cockfighting and nonconformity. It’s also pretty bloody brilliant.

Out of an opening tirade on equality in the dawn of human history, Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen take on the roles of two brothers, Dan and John. They don’t get on, arguing almost constantly about caring responsibilities for their terminally ill father. Their fighting builds in between movement and dance sequences of surprising intimacy and tenderness.

The culmination to Dan and John’s tension is a fantastic eruption of John’s frustrated masculinity feeling limited by “man things”. His words twists through Abbi’s, the man-woman who is happy in her own skin but doesn’t really suit any of that girly shit. Helen’s feminine contrast powerfully reinforces the importance of choice and freedom and that a woman doesn’t need to be butch to be a feminist and a man can express his feelings and do “feminine things” without his heterosexual maleness being threatened.

Greenland and Goalen’s performances are endowed with conviction and energy, and both are skilled physical performers who can convincingly play men, even with their breasts unveiled. They are accompanied by a musician, who backs them up with unfettered tunes of frustration and celebration.

This is a truly feminist show. Rather than blaming men, Two Man Show looks at the conventions of language that aids female suppression and acknowledges that men are not served by this system, either. Fabulously sequinned and ferociously opinionated, this is not one to miss.

Two Man Show runs through 27th August.

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Torn Apart (Dissolution), Theatre N16

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Love is one of the best things in the world, or the worst. It feels like floating, butterflies, warmth and fuzziness, or being trapped in a cage with no way out. Everyone wants to love and be loved, but when it backfires, the effects are devastating. For life, sometimes. Torn Apart (Dissolution) presents three interconnected relationships across generations and international borders. These people are broken at worst or dysfunctional at best, which makes for some good dramatic tension but the playwright BJ McNeill’s structure, style and storyline deteriorates towards the end. Some lovely set-piece scenes, a few good performances and a powerful set design help offset these issues, but new company No Offence Theatre need to continue developing their ideas in order to better showcase them.

The international company founded by two actors, Australian Hannah Kerin and Polish Natazja Somers is admirably diverse, and the play suits their strengths well. Complimented by Simon Donohue and Elliott Rogers, they form two couples that are related but never met. Rogers, at only twenty years old, possesses a presence and rich emotional range rare in a performer so young. He is excellent contrast to his carefree girlfriend Casey (Kerin) and the two fill the intimate Theatre N16 wonderfully. Somers and Donohue as Alina and an unnamed soldier have a more mature, world-weary energy that add another layer of contrast. Less developed are scenes with lesbian couple Holly (Katherine Eskenazi) and Erica (Monty Leigh), but they create a rare and commendable female-strong cast. The action flips between these three couples’ stories, revealing their connection at a good pace.

Szymon Ruszczewski’s set is simple but evocative. A bed with white linens sits in the middle of the stage, inside a white cube with threads creating walls the audience can see through – or thin bars, trapping the unhappy couples inside a generic, characterless bedroom. Ruszczewski has also designed the lighting, which is the most successful plot I’ve seen in this low-ceilinged theatre with several nooks and crannies that tend to cast stark shadows.

McNeill also directs. There’s a good use of diagonal lines so all sides can see, but some odd choices as well. Gratuitous female toplessness doesn’t add anything to the story. If the point is that the audience is witnessing private, intimate moments, why isn’t everyone naked when they’re having sex? He also doesn’t include a curtain call; this is incongruent with the naturalistic style of the piece that has a literal fourth wall. Several of the characters toy with the strings that make up the set walls, which makes their meaning jarringly ambiguous – are they walls, or are they bars, or are they just strings? Structurally, the last couple of scenes change style, and neither develops the plot. Ending with the last soldier/Alina scene would be abrupt, but a reinforcement of the horror that lurks in some relationships.

There is definite potential in this new company and their creatives, as well as scope to continue developing and refining their work. Their goal to create truly international work not limited by where their artists are from is a wonderful one that will garner them more attention with the overall increase in quality of their work.


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